House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff demanded Friday that U.S. intelligence chiefs inform Congress of any effort by Attorney General William Barr to declassify classified national security material over their objections.
in a letter to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Mr. Schiff, California Democrat, requested in-person briefings from the team and asked that they disclose any information Mr. Barr has asked for as part of his probe of the origins of the FBI investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
President Trump earlier this month granted Mr. Barr the authority to declassify any material necessary to complete his review and the heads of the nation’s intelligence communities to cooperate.
Mr. Schiff and Democrats have been critical of the move, casting it as an effort by Mr. Trump to politicize national security efforts.
“This approach threatens national security by subverting longstanding rules and practices that obligate you and other heads of IC agencies to safeguard sources and methods and prevent the politicization of intelligence and law enforcement,” Mr. Schiff wrote.
In the letter, Mr. Schiff asks for a heads-up on any effort by the attorney general to declassify documents and provide “an assessment of the harms to national security” that could arise from releasing the material.
“In the wake of the directive, the committee will conduct rigorous, ongoing oversight of your agency and others in the IC to ensure the attorney general does not abuse his new and sweeping authority,” Mr. Schiff continued.
Seeking a reply by June 6, Mr. Schiff sent letters to the heads of the CIA, FBI and NSA.
Last week, Mr. Coats said in a statement that he would comply with Mr. Barr’s requests, adding that he was confident the attorney general and the intelligence community could work together.
Republicans have insisted the Russia probe was an effort by intelligence agencies to influence the 2016 election against Mr. Trump.
Mr. Barr has pledged to get to the bottom of the matter, appointing John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut to spearhead the review.
Speaking with CBS on Friday, Mr. Barr did not provide much detail about the probe. He only cryptically said, “Some of the facts I have learned don’t hang together with the official explanations of what happened.”
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